“For Christians, solidarity is a natural expression of their faith.” At this difficult time which the European Union is experiencing, called as it is to unite spirits and economies, representatives of Christian churches across Europe - the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the social Commission of German bishops – have produced a joint position paper (in English and German) ahead of the European Parliament’s discussion of the proposals regarding regional politics. These are of fundamental importance for the path towards a greater cohesion among member states.
“The role of Church actors in the European Cohesion Policy”: a five page document in which churches in the old continent reveal the urgent need for a renewed commitment to building solid communities in which the common good is the aim of all decisions.”
Referring to Article 3 of the Union Treaty - which states that the Union “shall promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States” – bishops stress that this needs to be translated into daily practice in order to reduce structural inequality between the different regions and offer equal opportunities for development to disadvantaged regions.
The unification process is really being put to the test but Churches intend to underline their commitment to serving the European people. The consequences of demographic change, a just welfare system and the development of a set of conditions for an equal and sustainable quality of life: these are the main areas in which action is to be taken, giving Christians the opportunity to do something constructive with their personal experience of social issues.
Still today, in their various structures and traditions, Churches reflect on the historical, cultural and geographical differences between the continent’s various territories. But there is evidence everywhere of attempts to create common paths between institutions and communities in a relentless ecumenical process.
There are many responsibilities of different levels involved in this, even in the field of education. The goal is to forge a dialogue between cultures and to try to integrate people in an attempt to overcome poverty and exclusion. These two phenomena are the primary reason why so many institutions for young people’s education have been established throughout history.
The influence of Christian culture is not so prominent simply because of the great cathedrals and small churches - which are present in every European city and village – and Christian celebrations, conferences and concerts but because parishes are a centre of social inclusion, where single activities (even sports groups) are open to everyone.
Finally, Church leaders recall that charity, a key part of Christian life and the Church’s mission in the world, must continue in order to help reduce poverty, because “caring for the weak, the marginalised and for refugees and homeless people is core to Christianity.”